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(LEAD) Mexico vows to continue detaining N. Korean ship

All News 13:44 April 05, 2016

(ATTN: UPDATES with comments by Mexican president)
By Kim Kwang-tae

MEXICO CITY, April 4 (Yonhap) -- Mexico has vowed it will continue to detain a North Korean freighter, an official said Monday, in the latest sign of its resolve to enforce U.N. resolutions on Pyongyang.

Mexico detained the Mu Du Bong after identifying the ship as belonging to Ocean Maritime Management, a North Korean firm blacklisted by the U.N. for illegally shipping arms.

One of the company's ships was detained by Panamanian authorities in July 2013 for carrying Soviet-era MiG-21 fighter aircraft, surface-to-air missiles and other arms-related cargo hidden under sacks of sugar.

The 6,700-ton freighter ran aground on a reef off Tuxpan in the Mexican state of Veracruz in July 2014. Mexico held 33 crewmembers before releasing them last year.

North Korea has called for the release of the ship, saying the Mu Du Bong is a totally peaceful and legitimate commercial ship that sails under the direction of the Ministry of Land and Sea Transportation.

Still, Mexico said it "will continue to detain the ship" according to an official who is in a position to know about government policy. He asked not to be identified, citing policy.

Mexico informed South Korea of its decision soon after the U.N. Security Council slapped North Korea with the toughest-ever sanctions on North Korea on early March.

On Monday, Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto told his South Korean counterpart, Park Geun-hye, in their summit that Mexico is handling a North Korean freighter in a manner that faithfully carries out its obligation as a member of the U.N., according to South Korea's presidential office.

It's not immediately clear whether Pena Nieto did not elaborate or South Korea's presidential office did not provide details after being informed about the ship.

The sanctions are meant to punish the communist country for its fourth nuclear test on Jan. 6 and long-range rocket launch on Feb. 7.

Last week, Park held back-to-back meetings with her counterparts from the United States, China and Japan in Washington and agreed to strictly enforce the sanctions on North Korea.


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